You know those words you never take the time to fully read? Well carrageenan is one of those for me. And it doesn’t help either when you’re trying to talk to someone about it, and the only thing you can remember is that it starts with a c, has some r’s and a g. Somehow I magically turned the word into “carcinogen.”  It might as well just be that.

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that is used as a binder or texturizer. It is sometimes used in place of gelatin (an animal by-product) to make a something vegetarian or vegan. I have primarily found carrageenan in dairy products such as almond milk, coconut milk, etc.

When I started the Whole30, any additives were no-no’s. Carrageenan was specifically identified as a “no-list” ingredient. This meant that I could no longer drink my Blue Diamond unsweetened vanilla almond milk. For a while I went to canned coconut milk (only ingredients are coconut and guar gum), a quick and easy fix for dairy-substitutions. However, I finally took the time (and not too much time) to make my own almond milk. This has become my new favorite. In smoothies, protein shakes, in place of coffee creamer.

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After conscientiously avoiding carrageenan in products, I have noticed it’s negative effects when it had entered my diet unexpectedly.

Case Study: I had been making my mocha protein shakes at home with no problem. The amount of coffee had never been too much or provided me with any kind of headache or caffeine overload. However, several times I made this shake at my boyfriend’s using his protein powder (Optimum Nutrition Vanilla Shake), and every time it gave me a headache even before I finished it. I thought it was weird that less than 8 oz of coffee would be giving me headaches, and only when I didn’t make my shake at home.  I finally looked at the ingredients and realized the culprit was carrageenan.

Moral of the story is that I have found carrageenan to be a good for nothing additive that can also be a culprit in GI distress, and supposedly cancer.  So don’t worry if you look at your non-dairy milk and realize the big C is in it.  Almond Milk one of the easiest things to make. All you need are some nuts, agua, a blender and some cheesecloth (or a nut bag)!

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Homemade Almond Milk
Adapted from Oh She Glows
Referenced here and here
1 cup almonds
3 ½ cups filtered water
½ tsp. vanilla extract

1. Soak the almonds for at least 2 hours, preferably 8-12 hours or overnight. Make sure to cover them completely (can be tap water, this is different from the water listed in the ingredients).

2. Drain the almonds and rinse with water.

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(nice, plump soaked almonds)

3. Place soaked almonds, filtered water and vanilla extract in the blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes.

4. Place the cheesecloth over a fine-mesh strainer and let the milk separate from the almond meal.

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5. Carefully squeeze all of the milk from the cheesecloth or nut bag.

6. Option to reserve the leftover meal for future recipes (recipes using almond meal see here, here, and here).

7. Pour the milk into a container and use within 3-5 days.

Enjoy your additive free, 100% pure almond milk!


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